Domestic Abuse: from Fear to Confidence

Domestic Abuse: from Fear to Confidence

When you leave an abusive relationship, you are driven by fear. At some point you know that if you stay, you’ll die, one way or another. And if you have kids, that they are at great risk too. You may not be able to say that it’s the right choice, because your thoughts are not clear, your mind is dealing with many contradictions; guilt and shame are your best friends for years.

You’ll find on your way back to life, many voices that will make you doubt your decisions to get out of a domestic abuse situation. It will be friends and professionnals. And it will be tough to listen to those people, who seem to know better than you what you went though and what you ought to do to start again. You will listen at first and you will feel less and less powerful, more and more under stress, pressure. All your energy seems gone to a land where you can’t catch it again.

Obviously, the person committing abbuse will do everything to win your back; your kids will be used for bartering —so easy! Many people think that it’s just about leaving domestic abuse, when in fact it’s so much more. It’s about finding yourself again, in a battle that looks like it will never ever end. And, also, it’s about keeping your kids safe and well.

Kids are the priority

Often people tell you—now that you’re out and ready to start a new life away from your abuser—that you have to take care of yourself. On paper, this looks great for sure, but in reality, if you have kids, you will want to protect them first. How can you think about yourself, when for years you have been nothing, and when you have been told you were good for nothing. First things first. Getting out of domestic abuse will cost you: 1. insomnia, 2. a great deal of money to find the best lawyer, 3. countless thoughts about whether you should give him/her another chance…again.

It lasted four years for me, between the time I left to the time the divorce was validated. It was all about our child. As much as I wanted him to have a relationship with his dad, I wanted the law of my country to guarantee the best protection for him too. I knew my ex-husband would do anything to mess it up. And he did.

Under threat

Domestic abuse doesn’t stop one morning bacause you decide it’s over. It’s always there, not visible, but in the words said, unsaid, in the behaviour, in the way the abuser is changing roles, again and again and again. So you are not able to tell what’s true, what’s not. You’re confused and back under his power once more.

It’s tough when you want your life back but you feel dragged down every time you make a step forward.

Stand your ground

At some stage you will need to get past voices around you and find your own. It’s a step-by-step process, full of ups and downs. I remember feeling free one day and back to darkness the next. But as months went by, I could see more days with freedom and fewer without. When people used to tell me things, I let them talk. By the end of the divorce, I had been through enough to understand a bit more about my ex-husband. He only wanted me to be the bad guy of the story.

But in front of the judge he did not stand any chance. The evidence was against him. People did not know my story. But I knew it by heart. I knew what I lived was not about love but only possession. And that his goal now was not to lose face in front of his family and community. Nothing more.

Know what’s best

I got help. I worked a lot. I wrote many lines. I poured out on to paper all the things I could not get my head around. And there were many. For me, it’s not about will power at first, it’s about understanding what abuse is, how we got there, why and how we can get out of it. It’s an enlightening road, cause when you start walking in your real shoes, you start seeing the whole picture.

I think that we all know what’s best for us, whatever other people think. My son did not see his dad for six years. Today, he is seeing his dad once a month in a supervised center. Many are still telling me that he is his dad and he won’t do anything to harm him, or that maybe he could see him out of this place. For me it’s a NO WAY. I know what’s best for him and me.

At the end of the story, you know you are part of it too. And you start taking care of yourself! Maybe,for the first time in your life!

Do you have any preconceived ideas (we all have some at some stage) about domestic abuse? How is the Law protecting kids and parents in your country?

This is an original post to World Moms Network from our contributor in France, Marie V. The featured image used in this post is attributed to Safe Horizon.

Marie Kléber

Marie is from France and is living near Paris, after spending 6 years in Irlande. She is a single mum of one, sharing her time between work, family life and writing, her passion. She already wrote 6 books in her native langage. She loves reading, photography, meeting friends and sharing life experiences. She blogs about domestic abuse, parenting and poetry @https://mahshiandmarshmallow.wordpress.com

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Family in Transit

Family in Transit

A recent post on Instagram had me chuckling and sighing at the same time. Someone had shared about the expatriate experience and said it was a cycle of unpacking, attempting to settle in, and packing up again. Then repeat. This resonated powerfully with me because it hits the bulls-eye when it comes to describing expatriate life accurately.

Once again, I’m at the beginning of this cycle. I’m currently sitting in my new dining room in Brunei, contemplating how we’ve been affected by our latest move from Singapore two months ago. I’m trying to think of some deeper insight to share. But I’m mostly wondering about the location of our container of belongings and crossing my fingers that it has arrived at port after weeks of being held up.

Physical Transitions From the Move


Delays in shipment should come as no surprise to me. After all, this is our third overseas posting in 14 years and our sixth international move. It’s discernible that the difficulty of transitioning increases with each move. It is in some part superficially related to the physical belongings that we have amassed over time, with furniture and keepsakes from different countries.

It is just physically tedious. But it has also gotten more challenging as our family has grown and our daughter has gotten older. (She is currently eight and already behaving like a pre-teen.) And this time around, there are many more added considerations and issues from moving during a pandemic. Besides the actual physical move, the mental and emotional upheaval can take a long time to accept and deal with.

Brunei Restrictions


There are several restrictions to entering Brunei. Firstly, it is currently not open to tourists and visitors, and one can only enter for essential travel. As with many other countries, there is also a quarantine period at a hotel facility along with several PCR tests at different points. Upon arriving in December, we quickly adapted to the local rules and restrictions. The first time we were invited out to dinner, we were excited to make new acquaintances.

I was having a lovely conversation with an Australian lady who had also just arrived, and we were happily exchanging notes when someone suddenly exclaimed, “It’s 9.15 pm!” and a bustle ensued to thank our hosts, make an elegant but hasty exit, and drive home quickly. You see, there was a nightly curfew set between 10 pm and 4 am, and no one in the country is allowed out of their homes during this period. Since then, the curfew has been relaxed to a later time of midnight, but like Cinderella, one has to always watch the clock on evenings out.

Pandemic Life

The author’s daughter on her way to Brunei to begin their
family’s next expat adventure.

While my husband jumped straight into the job after our isolation period was over, my daughter and I have been at home for most of these two months. The junior kids at her school are currently waiting for their vaccinations. Until then, they are required to have online lessons from home. We’re five weeks into home-based learning (more than we had ever done in Singapore!), and we do not know when the supplies will arrive and the kids can get their jabs.

So, we are being patient and will get that done as soon as the vaccination drive begins. In the meantime, she’s getting to know her teacher and classmates over Google Meet. And also attempting to fall in sync with her different subjects and pace of lessons. The reality of this is that it has been tough, particularly in the past week. I sit next to her and try to guide her, and she generally gets on easily.

Emotional Transitions

But there are days when it is all too much; we get on each other’s nerves and we need a time-out from work and each other. While we try to do fun things like play badminton together, the lack of daily interaction with children her own age is hard. There is probably a lot of physical and emotional energy being built up. We are still in the process of finding a balance and coping with being with each other 24/7.

But there are days when it is all too much; we get on each other’s nerves and we need a time-out from work and each other.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I know my patience needs a lot of work. Often, I drive her with the demands of a teacher rather than encourage her as a supportive parent. I need to know when to take a step back and acknowledge how overwhelming it can be for an 8-year-old. I just let her know that it’s alright. With online schooling possibly lasting for another few months, I foresee that there will be some days when I will be telling her teacher that she will not be completing the work. She needs a break for her physical and mental well-being (or for mine!). And we all need to be ok with it.

Transitioning Roles

In these two months, I have realised that I am at an important stage of transitioning in my own roles. Since the pandemic began, I met its challenges by dealing with work and adjusted to a blended mode of teaching my students in school. After years of being a stay-at-home mum, I had gradually re-established my role and identity outside of my family and home. Presently, however, my full-on and most immediate roles have circled back to focusing solely on my daughter and husband. The term trailing spouse is often used in expatriate life, though I prefer seeing myself as the supportive spouse.

Still, there is no denying that my role as a spouse has brought me here right now, and it is where I start again as we rebuild our family life together. As a mother, I am a guide, encouraging cheer-leader, cajoler of spirits, and master-briber. I am one of my daughter’s constants as she finds her way in this place and time with new friends, interests, and future plans.

I don’t see this as losing a part of my identity just because I have to give more of myself right now as a mother or wife. Rather, I want to see this as a pursuit of establishing myself in other meaningful ways and thriving with my many different identities. It will take time and I may struggle with some parts of it, but I’d say I’m always up for a challenge!



This is an original post by World Mom Karen Williams in Brunei.

Karen Williams

Karen is a Singaporean with an 8 year-old daughter who’s a little fire-cracker version of herself. She’s spent the last 15 years in her various roles of supportive trailing spouse, mother, home-maker and educator. Having experienced six international moves alternating between overseas postings and her home country of Singapore, Karen considers herself a lover of diverse foods and culture, and reckons she qualifies as a semi-professional packer. She is deeply interested in intercultural and third-culture issues, and has grown immensely from her interactions with other World Mums. Karen is currently living in Brunei with her family.

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World Mom: Tes Silverman of USA

World Mom: Tes Silverman of USA

This month’s Meet a World Mom features a treasured member of our senior editing team, who celebrates a very special birthday today. Get to know all about Tes Silverman, how she came to World Moms Network and what she does outside of her role with us. Happy Birthday Tes!!

WMN: What country do you live in?

Tes: I live in the USA.

What country are you from?

I was born in Manila, Philippines but have lived in the United States since I was 10 years old.

What language(s) do you speak?

My primary language is English but I also know some conversational French and Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines.

How many children do you have and what are their ages?

I have one daughter, Shaina, who is 22 years old. She is currently doing a post-baccalaureate on her way to medical school.

How did you connect with World Moms Network?

I was attending Moms+Social Summit and started a conversation with then Managing Editor, Elizabeth Atalay. I had my own blog but I wanted to connect with other women through my blog. Back then, they weren’t accepting new writers from the United States, but I was really interested in getting involved with World Moms Network. After talking with Elizabeth, I started submitting a post to World Moms Network and the rest is history.

How long have you been a part of World Moms Network?

I have been lucky enough to be part of World Moms Network for 5 years!

How do you spend your days? (work, life, etc.) 

I live in Virginia Beach, VA and spend most of my days looking for ideas to write about for World Moms Network, traveling pre-Covid with my husband for his speaking engagements and taking care of our 4 year old lab mix and 3 year old pitbull when we are home.

What are the top 5 places on your travel wish list?

I love to travel and have traveled to quite a few countries like France, Spain, Iceland, Israel, Canada, Thailand, Luxembourg and Belgium.  If and when everything starts opening up, my travel wish list consists of: Portugal, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Greece and Turkey. 

What is your best motherhood advice?

The best motherhood advice I can give is to make sure to take care of yourself. The example that I still remember dates back to when my husband and I brought our daughter home for the first time at my in-laws’ home. We were staying with them because I had a difficult pregnancy(I was on bedrest for 4 months) and since they were both medically experienced, it was advised that we stay with them until I gave birth to Shaina. Our first night with our daughter consisted of lots of her crying, unable to comfort her, until my mother-in-law took her from us for the rest of the night so we could sleep. Her words were, “I’ve got her, get some rest and I’ll see you in the morning.” I didn’t realize until much later how much that one gesture would impact the way I took care of my daughter. Caring for your child is important, but caring for yourself is just as crucial.

What is one random thing that most people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a big foodie and love to look for great places to eat whenever I travel. 

How did you get through quarantine/lockdown (2020/21)?

I started a podcast titled r(E)volutionary Woman in November 2019 as a result of wanting to connect with other women from different countries. It was my way of creating deeper conversations with women about what’s going on in their lives and what they’re doing for their communities.

I connected with family and friends via Zoom calls. I went to a few family birthday parties via Zoom which was chaotic but fun.

What’s your favorite social media platform, if any?

Facebook, because it has made it easy for me to connect with family, friends and possible guests for my podcast.

What brings you joy?

I love going for high tea, a walk on the beach, road trips with my husband and playing with our dogs, Dobby and Miso.

What UN sustainable development goal are you most passionate about?

I am very passionate about SDG #5 – Gender Equality. I believe that educating girls, having  their voices heard and advocating for their rights are just some ways to achieve this goal. There is so much work to do to get there but I am hopeful that we can achieve this if we keep using our voices and speak out against any inequality.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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To All Moms: You Don’t Know a Thing! PS, I Love You

To All Moms: You Don’t Know a Thing! PS, I Love You

Alas! I’d just had yet another row with my 14-year-old, and the closing banter, as always was, “You don’t know a thing! I hate you Mom!”. Feeling drained out, wretched, and eager to make things normal, all at the same time, I heard the loud thud of the door closing. She has shut her bedroom door as usual. I have the key with me, but I never try to open it. Wishing that she would come to me and apologise, I too, went to my room trying to take a nap. I put on the Brian Weiss regression on YouTube, yearning to relax.

I was now a teenager.

My individuality was slowly developing, but I was not there yet! I didn’t want to be under the shelter of mom and dad. Aged sixteen and completing my Pre-Degree (equivalent to 12th grade), I thought I knew everything better than my mom. It was the time of our farewell. Having decided to wear a Ghagra choli (Indian traditional wear) for the event, I found a good design from a magazine, and mom got it stitched for me. Unfortunately, the cloth was insufficient, and the dress did not look as beautiful as I imagined. The tailor consoled me saying that she could get it altered if I brought some more of the same cloth. I was disappointed, but mom reassured me that we would get it changed.

A day or two passed.

I didn’t see any sign of my mom getting the cloth for alteration. Concerned and having decided that mom was not going to do it for me, I kicked up a massive fuss and fought with her. That evening when mom was away at work, I went to the textile shop all by myself in an auto-rickshaw. I still remember, it was a maroon coloured Ghagra choli and I wanted some more of the same coloured cloth. The lady in the shop showed me so many variations of maroon colour and asked which maroon shade I wanted. Sadly, I realised that I hadn’t brought the dress with me to buy the exact maroon shade I needed. Never mind, I was a teenager, I knew everything, and I had the same maroon in my mind! So, I didn’t wait for anything, just bought the maroon material and came back home.

When I reached home, mom had returned from work, and she was waiting to question me.

Furious, I told her that I had bought the cloth all alone since I knew she wouldn’t do it for me. Then mom asked me if she could see the fabric and the dress to confirm that the colour was the same. Proudly, I took out the cloth I bought and the dress. God, the colours didn’t match!!! What should I do now?!! I felt miserable.

But what happened next was even more painful.

My mom took out a cover and handed it to me., I was almost in tears when I opened it because it had the same coloured cloth I needed for my dress. She had gone to buy it on her way back from work. Did I ever think that this would happen? How could I? I was so naïve, and my mom was so thoughtful! Wanting to hug my mom and say sorry, I wanted to stop fighting with her after this incident. But did it happen?
In my mind, I might have apologised a million times, but my ego never allowed me to tell mom that I was wrong and I did not know a thing!

I completed college, found a job, got married and had kids.

Travelling along the same roads as her, I got to know her better. I met with her struggles and faced her challenges. Then, someday, somewhere, without me or her knowing, I realised that her love towards me was the purest I ever received! No wonder, for my relationship with her was nine months ahead of everyone else!

The YouTube video stopped playing.

I was awake! I heard the creaky noise of the door opening. It was my daughter going to the kitchen to get something to eat. She didn’t bother to see what I was doing. Did it hurt? No, I am a mom, and moms never give up on kids. I blessed her in my mind and wished that she would grow up to be a brave and graceful woman and a mom who never gives up on her kids!

Do you recollect your childhood experiences and reapply your parents' parenting approaches in your family? Or do you think your kids need a totally different approach?

This is an original guest post written for World Moms Network by Rohini Pillai in Oman.

Author Bio:
Rohini Pillai was born and raised in Kerala, God’s own country, the southern state of India. She considers her trust in God and her family as the biggest strengths of her life. She loves to be around people, and if not, you will most likely find her around her sweet brown and white Shitzu, Polo.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Parenting Don’ts: Advice to My Future Self

Parenting Don’ts: Advice to My Future Self

I had the privilege to be born in Bahrain and imbibe the various cultures around me. Raised in a nuclear family, my parents tried to give my sister and me everything that a big, joint Indian family would provide for a proper balanced upbringing. That was a lot of expectations from one dad and one mum who worked almost 10 hours everyday to make a good living for their family.

Educated in a co-ed Indian School (boys and girls attend the same school) in Bahrain, and given the choice of subjects I wanted to pursue, I thought it was a privilege and responsibility. Having completed my Engineering degree, I, like any fresh  graduate, wanted a chance to work at an IT firm in Bangalore. But dad wanted me to stay back in Bahrain. I didn’t have to struggle too hard to find my first job – selling software programs. However in their minds, I was supposed to be making them, and not selling them. Also, my parents had their own plans for me. All they wanted from me was to complete my Engineering studies and ‘settle down’.    

This was when the first bubble of the ignorant started to burst.

The ignorant being ‘me’. And bubble? These are gigantic balls parents build around their child to protect them from the harsh realities of life. It was very easy for a child brought up in the Middle East to live in such a bubble for a very long time, at least in those times.

Lesson Learnt: My kids will have a choice on whether to marry/work/earn/live independently before ‘settling down’.

Soon, dad arranged for a meeting with the boy’s family. Dad was so excited to get me a salwar kameez of his favourite colour. I wore the yellow suit and smiled at all the family members sitting in front of me, hoping dad remembered the three important points I discussed with him:

I didn’t want to live in the Middle East. My preference was someone who was settled outside Kerala. Being the eldest I didn’t want to marry the eldest son of a family.

But of course, nothing I said was heard.

Lesson Learnt: Listen to your child. Is it that hard?

Should I be throwing a tantrum now? Or should I trust dad? Dad said that my life would begin after I got married and I could work like I wanted and everything would be okay. How far that was from the truth, neither he nor I knew.

Lesson Learnt: When you are not sure of something, don’t say it.

Newly married phase began.

I felt that if I told my life partner I wanted to work before we started a family he would understand. Luckily I found a job in a reputed university in Saudi Arabia. But then again, my partner was in a hurry to start a family and I had to quit my job before it started.

After my kiddo turned 1, I began working as a software developer. This was the only way I could sponsor my child in Bahrain. My husband decided this was best for the child and I couldn’t agree more. But for that to happen, I had to stay with my parents, and living with parents after marriage was a whole new ballgame.

Suddenly, financial balance became an important topic and mum felt I was not doing enough at home. I hired a helper and tried to assist financially. I never left my daughter home to socialize with friends. But then, dad had a problem if I came back home late with her. Mum reminded me that I should be staying with my husband. She said it was embarrassing to let her colleagues know that her daughter stayed with her after marriage. I didn’t know where I belonged.

Lesson Learnt: I would ensure that I made my child feel 'at home' when she was home. Home was the safest place for them, no matter what others say.

Work started taking up most of my time.

I worked hard, changed jobs, and was now responsible for the Information Technology Department. Big role, but dad and mum didn’t think much of it. Why? Because I was not earning in 4 digits in Bahrain.

Lesson Learnt: Any job, big or small, would be celebrated. 

Once, Boss called at nine in the night and when I answered the call, dad reacted like there was nothing worse I could do. I calmly explained that Boss was travelling and wanted to know why he was unable to send out an important email, whether it was a server issue. But he didn’t care for my explanations. Nothing dad said made sense anymore.

After two years, husband successfully found a job in Bahrain. We shifted to our own place and everyone seemed very happy. I still worked till late evenings, and my husband came home earlier. He waited till I served dinner every night and reminded me that my primary job was at home. He informed me that soon he would sponsor our child and I should make arrangements for the transfer. Mother- in- law joined us and that made everyone in the house happier.

I worked for the same company for more than 3 years with no pay raise. Wanting to do more, I enrolled for a course to learn about web applications. I came home late after the course and worked hard to transfer the current website to a web application. That was a success after a few trials. But still no raise.

While we planned for our second child I decided to shift my career to something lighter. I resigned and took up a teaching job at a school. This gave me more time with my daughter and I made peace with it. Blessed with a son, our family was complete. I quit teaching and stayed with my children.

Lesson Learnt: If you did not have a proper support system, then it was impossible for a woman to have a good career and family together.
Faced with a similar situation, what would you have done differently? 

This is an original guest post written for World Moms Network by Rashmi Roshan in Bahrain.

Author Bio:
I am Rashmi Roshan - mum to two lovely children, juggling the roles of wife, daughter, sister, friend, computer science engineer and teacher. Born and raised in Bahrain and still here, I experienced different cultures and living styles here, which has helped me understand difficulties that children in the Middle East face. Having said that, there is still so much more for me to learn; and to be able to pen down my thoughts and share my perspective with my family and readers has helped me listen to the tiny voice inside, instead of letting it get lost. So, I'm thankful for this opportunity, and I hope to read and learn from the experiences shared by other mothers.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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